shirenomad: (celebration)
:D
shirenomad: (excited)
Yeah, today went well.
shirenomad: (memorable)
So yeah, I spent the weekend up north, as mentioned. The trip up went smoothly until we reached Casa de Fruta, this tourist trap rest stop in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from San Jose. We stop for a quick leg stretch and bathroom break, I pick up some dried fruit as a gift for the parents just because, and then we all pile back into the car... and it gurgles. And stalls. And generally refuses to go. We'd noticed a bit of gurgling as we pulled in, but we figured it was nothing... joke was on us. So after checking the obvious for problems, we drag in both Triple A and Allen's parents, one to retrieve the car and the other to retrieve us. Arrival time was thus two hours later than planned. (Turned out the water pump broke down, meaning the radiator wasn't getting water, if you were curious.)

Saw my good friend Cheryl that evening, along with some of her friends. (I owed her that after not seeing her once all Christmas break, due to one complication after another.) Followed that up with seeing my grandmother (who's getting chemo right now but is holding out okay) for lunch the next day, and the usual crew at church on Sunday. This was not, however, the best choice of weekends if I wanted to see my parents; they were highly busy due to some church planning event (there's some major redecorating coming up in the next few months), so I barely saw them at all Saturday and only saw Mom for most of Sunday. But I did get to spend the last bit of Friday afternoon watching a DVD with both of them.

Still, it was good timing in one other respect. There's this elderly lady I'll call L who was going through some trouble last year and, with the encouragement of her friend R, sought a lawyer... namely, Pam. Coincidentally, R was (and still is) a member of Santa Clara First Baptist; she had no idea until she walked in the door that I was working for Pam as an assistant, but she was glad to know I'd be helping out. I moved down south before the case was resolved completely, but it was basically a stunning victory for our side, and no one was more pleased than L (who was convinced she was screwed and there was no point to fighting it). But I bring this up because R continued being L's friend, and invited her to church, and by another sheer coincidence, L got baptized this Sunday. So it was just cool to see how much better she was doing. I made sure to say hi after the service and congratulate her.

Trip back south was uneventful, although I wasn't able to sleep through as much of it as I did on the way up. Also made sure to bring south as many books as I could pack; I had left most of them behind when I moved for space reasons.

And oh yeah, while I was up there, I was helping Mom out at Costco briefly, and while I was there I poked around the bargain bin computer games, and behold! Brand new, 16 bucks. I haven't seen it used for less than $14. Can you say "Score"? Good!
shirenomad: (faith)
"Alas my love, you say goodbye
Wipe the poison from my brow
Alas my love, this guilty night
It gives me up like a foster child
And in this moment I take my vow
These angels sleeping at my feet
And in this moment you do not know how
How my spirit wants to flee"
You see it was one man against the night
Taking on a multitude
That had left Him high and dry
No candle burning vigil could light the way
Darkness hit the ground like a fallen satellite
He wrestled until morning
With human souls and dark angels
And there He finished His work
On the third day


- Kevin Max
shirenomad: (faith)
Emmanuel. The word means "God with us."

Although I won't argue that the resurrection isn't the most important event in Christianity, the birth of Jesus is in many ways just as amazing. Not because of the virgin birth or the angelic announcements or the star of Bethlehem; I don't think anyone who believed in God before or since would deny he was capable of doing all of that without breaking a sweat. But because, starting right then, the Creator of the Universe proved he could understand what it was like for us. He became human, and everything that came with it.

He was a baby; he needed diaper changes and feedings. He was a kid; he stubbed his toes and skinned his knees. He was a teenager; he went through puberty, his voice broke, he probably had acne. He was a young adult; he worked as a carpenter, got sore muscles and sweat. He made himself dependent on others.

And when death came, he feared it. He faced it, but he feared it. And by the time it arrived, he would understand pain, to levels his human body was never designed to tolerate.

For thirty-three years, the most powerful Being in existence walked among us. God was with us.

If God just wanted to die for our sins -- no small thing, don't get me wrong, but if that's all he wanted to do -- he could have showed up as an adult for a few days, gotten killed off, and that would have been that. Like some celebrity getting some photo ops with starving African kids for charity before going back home to a Hollywood mansion and a professional chef. But God went for the whole package.

And so we don't have to wonder if someone like him cares about us mortals. We don't have to wonder if he truly understands what it's like to be human. He does. He stepped off his throne and spent thirty-three years proving it. That's the miracle of Christmas.
shirenomad: (celebration)
Saturday (yeah, I'm behind on my entries; so what?) Allen called in Brian and I for a special mission. We went over to a nearby park with a banner, which we were to attach to a bridge over the lake. Then we were to film the result as Allen and Christina (his girlfriend for six years) rounded the bend, and Christina read the message: "Christina, will you marry me?"

*waits for the "Awwwww"s to die down*

Unfortunately, there was a snag... the letters on the banner weren't large enough. We should have checked earlier, but it simply wasn't legible at any distance that you could reach without walking on water. So Allen gets her to the planned point, and it's clear from there that there's... something... hanging from the bridge... (D'oh!) So he makes some excuse to make a phone call and gives Brian updated instructions on the sly, then heads around the side of the lake, facing Christina away from the bridge while we furiously take down the banner and reposition it across the entryway.

Alas, by this point Christina had figured out something was up, and she was able to deduce from there. So the only surprise for her was that Brian and I were involved. But hey, she still said yes (like there was ever any doubt), so all's good. Congrats, both of you!
shirenomad: (crisis)
Iraqi girl with a serious heart condition gets treatment. (The start of the story can be found here; scroll down to "Days 11-16."

Anyone who still thinks American soldiers don't care about the Iraqi people can bite me.
shirenomad: (wtf)
One of the things that annoyed me about this incident is that I had renewed my Elance account two days before the insults started flying. Granted, I'd only gotten one job out of the three-month subscription, but it had earned me $52, and I'd only paid $25 for the subscription. And now that I actually had a job under my belt, maybe I'd have better luck getting more clients.

Both arguments to continue my membership fell apart when Bozo the Client demanded his money back and gave me a D+ feedback in one motion. My one other experience with Elance hadn't been that great for the contractor either; it was the time my boss hired someone to do some advertising and then never was able to decide what he actually wanted from her. Between those two incidents, I suddenly had very little faith that this site was worth even $25.

Unfortunately, it was too late to retract my subscription fee, no matter how much I suddenly wanted to -- I was stuck for another three months.

...Or was I? See, the resubscription process is pretty automated. I just say okay and they charge my credit card again. The same credit card I used last time. Last time being three months ago. As in, before this.

Yup, Elance came to me and let me know my credit card wasn't any good anymore, and would I please give them a valid number? I said no, goodbye, and terminated my account on the spot.
shirenomad: (God moment)
In Christ alone my heart is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final death
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
shirenomad: (encouraging)
You say you're falling apart
Reached the end of the line
Just looking for your place in an ordinary life
No one calls you friend
No one even knows your name
You just want to feel loved instead of all the pain

You no longer have to say
No one's listening anyway

Come here and cry on my shoulder
I'll hold you 'til it's over
I'll rescue you tonight
Let my arms be your shelter
Your hiding place forever
I'll love you more than life

You're wearing a frown
Giving up on hope
My heart is reaching out more than you will ever know
Is your burden too much
Is it more than you can bear
I'll help carry the load if you're willing to share

You have had some hard times
Had thorns placed in your side
I know about what you've been going through
Tears of pain are falling down
It hurts so bad you're crying out
Your problems won't last forever
Let me put you back together

You no longer have to say
No one's listening anyway

Come here and cry on my shoulder
I'll hold you 'til it's over
I'll rescue you tonight
Let my arms be your shelter
Your hiding place forever
I'll love you more than life
shirenomad: (encouraging)
I saw the sky fall down today
Suddenly turn from blue to gray
Till one by one the raindrops
Turned to tears upon your face
Wish there was something I could do
Wish I could ease the pain from you
But I've never felt so helpless
It's like you're drowning right in front of me
And I'm reaching out but you can't see
There's something holding on to you so tight
So I guess this is all I'll say to you tonight

If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I will be waiting where I've always been
If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I have never left you, I'm where I've always been
Right by your side
Right by your side

If the whole wide world is on your back
If the strength you need is the strength you lack
If you're in a crowd but all alone
If you can't stay here but you can't go home
If you can't answer all the why's
'Cause you're too tired to reach that high
I want you to remember

If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I will be waiting where I've always been
If you ever need me
You know where to find me
I have never left you, I'm where I've always been
Right by your side
Right by your side
shirenomad: (encouraging)
The following was written by a commander serving aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. Cut for length )
shirenomad: (Default)
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.'"

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
shirenomad: (encouraging)
And so are those of random drivers.

I was backing out of my parking space leaving work when BAM! smacked an unoccupied car that was in the unofficial "unloading zone" in front of the office. I hadn't checked behind me throughly as I was backing out, and managed to put quite the dent just in front of the passenger-side door, as well as remove some paint. So I re-park my car, wondering how much this is going to cost me, and start hunting for a piece of paper that I could leave a note on. And while I'm rooting around my car, the guy comes back out of the office and gets in his vehicle without noticing the damage on the far side of the car.

Sadly, Mom raised me right, so I approach the car before he can start the engine and start apologizing. I explain that I hadn't seen his car and I had hit it, so he comes around to have a look.

Driver: *points to the damage* You hit me there?
Me: Yeah, I think that's the spot.
Driver: Not a problem.
Me: *huh?* Are you sure?
Driver: It's okay.

And he gets back in his car and drives off.

I can only assume that side of the car was already beat up before I got anywhere near it. (Or he was gellin' like a felon.) Either way, I'm not going to push the matter further. *sigh of relief*
shirenomad: (God moment)
The sermons series at church has been called "Experiencing God", and can be summed up as "God can do some really cool things if we're willing to participate." Got the chance to put that into action last week.

Last Sunday evening, a bunch of us got together at the church to make bag lunches: sandwiches, chips, box drinks, cookies, fruit. Then we drove to the park to hand them out to the homeless. No strings attached. We offered to listen to them or pray for them after we gave them the food, but if they said no, that was fine with us.

We took longer getting there then we expected (my car more than the others due to getting a little lost ^^;; ), so by the time we had handed out half the supply, most of our guests had moved on to find someplace warmer for the night. So I thought at first that the entire thing was a bit of a bust. But today we gathered again, and I got to hear about what one of the other teams got to experience.

It seems that one of the homeless guys was an alcoholic, but was trying to give it up, and had just made it through his first sober day in some time. He was happy to bring it up when the group mentioned prayer, so they prayed for him, offered their congratulations for making it that far, and encouraged him to keep going for the long haul.

That wasn't the cool part. See, he had been encouraging himself through the day by reading the Bible. In fact, he had just reached the end of the first chapter of Hebrews. Why Hebrews of all books? Someone had recommended he read it today. So after he mentions this, toward the end of the conversation, he thinks for a bit about the part he had just been reading. Then he asks if we happen to be angels.

And maybe, for a short while, we all were.
shirenomad: (celebration)
Go Iraq. I'll have to remember to watch the game Sunday.
shirenomad: (at peace)
Please don't be insulted by the site this happens to be on; I happen to agree with everything this essay says, so I'm putting it up anyway.

For those of us who have good fathers, be glad. Thank them today. Thank them often. Remember everything they did for us.

For those of us who have bad fathers, follow the advice the column gives at the end. I know what hate can do, and I will testify to the cleansed feeling that forgiveness and moving on brings. It took a lot of generations to bring things this far. End the cycle with you.

And for all us guys, if/when we become fathers ourselves, let's all remember to be the kind that will change the world, starting with our children.
shirenomad: (God moment)
No, not for me. I'm still driving the beat-up Honda Accord that's older than half of you fine readers. But the 1990 Grand Caravan that has served as the family vacation vehicle for over a decade finally broke something important, and my parents decided it was not worth paying for the repairs when something else was likely to fall off within a few months anyway. So Mom picked up a nice, slightly used Mitsubishi Galant. Previously owned by Hertz Rent-A-Car, so it's got more miles on it than any two-year-old vehicle has a right to, but in excellent condition.

The neat thing, though, was how she found it. She still wasn't sure if it was even time to give up on the Caravan, much less what she should replace it with, when she started looking. This may seem weird to you agnostics and athiests out there, but she prayed that God would show her the way to go. You know, give her a sign. Not the most important decision she'd have to make in her life, probably not one of even remotely eternal significance, but she prayed anyway.

A bit later in the day, after some searching, she comes across the Galant, thinks it looks pretty good for the price, and decides to give it a test drive. She takes a seat and turns the car on. And gets music. The last renter left the radio on. Nothing unusual about that, except usually they leave it on some Mexican channel or something random, maybe classical once or twice. But never before, in thirty years of buying, renting, and borrowing cars, has Mom found the radio tuned to her favorite station: 91.9 FM, modern Christian music.

She took it for the test drive anyway, but she pretty much decided right there that this was her new car.
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